The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), one of the world’s leading and fastest growing onshore business and financial centres, celebrated Qatar’s historic victory at the Asian Cup, and with it, the growing importance of Qatar’s sports ecosystem.

The QFC recently welcomed the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC to its platform. The joint venture will be responsible for key aspects of the 2022 edition, such as planning and delivery of operations and services for the tournament.

The QFC continues to make progress towards developing the sports sector and becoming an international hub for sports services, and in 2018 signed an MoU with Aspire Zone Foundation to establish the Qatar Sports Business District. The MoU aims to attract large sports-related multinationals, promote the setup of sustainable businesses and start-ups and facilitate the commercialisation of sports-related products and services in Qatar.

Yousuf Mohamed Al Jaida, CEO of QFC Authority, said: “We are extremely proud of Qatar’s historic victory at the Asian Cup, a win which undoubtedly emphasises the growing importance of sports on all levels – including from a business perspective. We are also proud to welcome FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC to the QFC platform, and are confident that through this new joint venture, Qatar will deliver a remarkable tournament. We are honoured to be an integral part of this journey.”

Al Jaida added: “The sports sector offers a rich variety of business and investment opportunities and impressive potential for future growth. The QFC’s unique platform provides a gateway to businesses and in the process continues to facilitate Qatar’s long-term position as an international sports hub. The number of firms registered on the QFC platform increased by 31 percent in 2018 to reach over 600, and includes amongst them many sport-related business services.”

With a well-established world-class sports infrastructure, Qatar has a long history of successfully hosting international sporting tournaments such as the 2018 FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships, 2015 World Men’s Handball Championship, 2015 AIBA World Boxing Championships, as well as the 2006 Asian Games, and many others.

Furthermore, Qatar’s sports sector is expected to reach $20bn by 2023. This growth comes as momentum continues to build in the lead up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup and as the country continues to develop best-in-class facilities and services as part of its estimated $200bn Qatar National Vision 2030.

The QFC is an onshore jurisdiction that allows registered companies to enjoy competitive benefits, such as working within a legal environment based on English common laws.


Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) has introduced a brand new version of its online corporate banking portal for corporate, medium and small enterprises. The new portal is easy to use, with a lot of new additional features whereas it’s a highly secured passageway for QIB’s corporate clients to manage all their daily business banking transactions.

“The enhancement of the corporate online banking will serve as a key element for our corporate clients by reducing the administrative time that it will take to finish their banking procedures and eliminates the need to visit a branch.”, said Tarek Fawzi General Manager of the Wholesale banking group. He added, “Part of QIB’s strategic approach is becoming a digitally driven bank with a focus of offering clients with timely and secure shari’a-compliant services for all their banking needs. Around one hundred of our corporate customers are already taking advantage of the speed and convenience offered by the new portal and we are expecting this number to grow.”

St. Regis Bal Harbour is one of only 121 hotels to be included in the exclusive Five Diamond award list for 2019 out of over 27,000 properties reviewed by AAA, placing it in the top 0.4 percent of its rated hotels. ; Account management: gives you access to your consolidated accounts, financing and deposits; Beneficiary management: lets you create beneficiaries for local and international transfers and control users through corporate admin; Payments and transfer: allows you to manage single, multiple, bulk and future date payments, and transfer within accounts for better liquidity management; Trade finance: enables you to request LCs, LGs, and bills for collection; Credit card management: give you full control of your company’s cards, view and make card payment, block/unblock cards, enable magnetic stripe during travel and monitor transactions; Utility bills payment: lets you make utility payments to Kahramaa, Ooredoo; and other general service on request such as request for cheque books, balance confirmation, cheque image and swift copies.

It also has a new multi-level transaction matrix to increase security whereas client may appoint restricted roles for different users by appointing a maker for a transaction, someone to review the payment details “checker” and an authorizer that approves the payment “approver.”

The new portal resides on an omnichannel banking platform, whereas now all banking platforms are linked to one central unit. Corporate clients that wish to register for the corporate online banking should contact their relationship manager or submit a request online.


The United States sees the European Union as its top priority in a global effort to convince allies not to buy Huawei equipment for next-generation mobile networks, a U.S. State Department Official said on Tuesday.

After meetings with the European Commission and the Belgian government in Brussels, U.S. officials are set to take a message to other European capitals that the world’s biggest telecommunications gear maker poses a security risk, said the official, who declined to be named.

“We are saying you need to be very, very cautious and we are urging folks not to rush ahead and sign contracts with untrusted suppliers from countries like China,” the official said.

The United States fears China could use the equipment for espionage – a concern that Huawei Technologies Co. says is unfounded. The push to sideline Huawei in Europe, one of its biggest markets, is likely to deepen trade frictions between Washington and Beijing.

Washington is using “multiple tracks”, the U.S. official said, including talks at the U.S.-led NATO alliance in Brussels and at international conferences in Barcelona and Munich: “Europe is definitely where we see this as the top priority.”

Huawei gear is widely used in Europe but the push is aimed at equipment for the new fifth generation mobile technology, which promises to link up everything from vehicles to factories at far greater speeds.

While Washington has largely barred Huawei from supplying its government and contractors, it sees advanced European preparations for 5G networks as a security risk that could also endanger the United States.

“Going with an untrusted supplier like Huawei or ZTE will have all sorts of ramifications for your national security and … since we are military allies with almost all members of the European Union, on our national security as well,” the official said.


Asked for evidence of intelligence work by Huawei or its rival ZTE, the U.S. official said American alarm stemmed more from China’s status as a one-party state, a series of Chinese laws approved in 2017, and counter-terrorism legislation.

The official cited language in the National Intelligence Law that directs individuals and companies to aid China’s intelligence-gathering and keep such work secret.

“Huawei and ZTE … are ensconced in a one-party state where they are simply not equipped to resist directions from Beijing.”

The official also pointed to vulnerabilities found in older networks built by Huawei in Britain, even when they were monitored by a laboratory overseen by British intelligence.

Reuters reported exclusively on Jan. 30 that the European Commission, the EU executive, was considering proposals that would ban Huawei from 5G networks, but that work was at an early stage.

Concern is also growing in Germany. But France is walking a fine line, with parliament reviewing a provision that would increase government powers to make checks on 5G equipment.

“We may not have all the information the United States has. But we take decisions based on what we know. And at this stage, we have not decided to ban Huawei in France,” a French official said this week.


Commercial Bank expects to issue around 200-250m Australian dollar-denominated bonds in the next few months, the Group CEO Joseph Abraham said.

The bank will issue the “kangaroo” bonds at the end of the first quarter or in the second quarter, said Joseph

The bank said last year, that it could raise up to $1bn in debt this year by tapping a range of various debt instruments to diversify its funding sources.

The Group CEO said Commercial Bank’s funding profile is quite diverse. “For us we have a number of diversified providers for funding. So we look at diversifying the funding by geography, by tenor and by time. Commercial Bank products are well regarded in the international market”, he said.

Commercial Bank Group Chief Executive Officer, Joseph Abraham said yesterday that Turkey and Oman will continue to remain as the strategic markets of the bank. As Qatar continues to diversify its strategic foreign investments, Commercial Bank will keep on playing bigger roles in these key markets.

In terms of Commercial Bank’s international operations, Turkey and Oman remain key strategic markets through its subsidiary Alternatif Bank and partner National Bank of Oman. Abraham pointed to the investment in Alternatif Bank’s new headquarters and its rebrand in 2018 as evidence of the Bank’s continuing commitment to Turkey.

Attending the bank’s annual roundtable yesterday, a day after it announced a significant 175.5% growth in the Group’s net profit, the GCEO said the bank’s five year strategic plan has been key to its strong financial performance in 2018. “We are on track to deliver our five year strategic plan ,” the Group CEO said.

“We continued investment in our subsidiary Alternatif Bank. Of late, the bank has been re-branded and the investment till date stands at $1bn…..Turkey is very important for Qatar and we see a huge opportunities in terms of Qatar’s investment in Turkey. It is more important that Qatar recently announced $15bn foreign direct investment in Turkey. We can be a part of this”.

On Qatar’s increasing presence in South East Asian countries and Commercial Bank’s interests in these economies, Joseph said Commercial Bank is already participating in the investments in some countries in the region, including South Korea and China as an intermediary. “As Qatar continues to diversify its international trading and investment relations, Commercial Bank will be a part of it,” he said.

Citing official data, Joseph said Qatar will be largely immune to the projected global slowdown perception. “We see Qatar outlook very positive. The impact of blockade is gone. The country’s GDP is projected to grow by over 3 percent. The country has a surplus budget. The underlying demand for gas is very strong. The budget for the current fiscal has set aside $45bn for infrastructure projects. All these will lead to improvement in the overall economic growth in Qatar.”

The Group CEO said: “Our latest financial results are evidence of the successful execution of our five-year strategic plan and we will continue to deliver against our plan in 2019, with an increased focus on innovation. Creativity and innovation is one of our five Cs, but its importance feeds into our other Cs too. Through creativity and innovation, we can improve the client experience and foster a culture of excellence. All of this has an impact on our corporate earnings quality, helping us to grow as a Bank.

“In Transaction Banking for example, we see great potential in the market for innovative services. Because of our commitment to applying digital technology to improve the customer experience, we believe that we can bring enhanced products and services to the Transaction Banking market in Qatar.”

Rehan Khan, CFO of Commercial Bank explained that the Bank’s net profit increase by more than QR1bn in 2018 was driven by lower credit provisioning and lower operating expenses.

The bank’s cost of risks is down from just over 200 bps to just over 100bps. “This is what we had indicated to the market from the start of 2018 that we were targeting and we have achieved it”, Rehan said.

Hussein Ali Al Abdulla, EGM, Chief Marketing Officer, said: “Commercial Bank posted a strong set of results in 2018. The increase in net profit was driven by the reduction in loan provisioning compared to the previous year. Operating profit was supported by a strong focus on efficiency, with the benefits of digitization also flowing through to the income statement. Consequently, our cost to income ratio is 33.4 percent for 2018 compared to 37.5 percent for last year. We look forward to continuing the success we achieved in 2018 into this year.”


The Commercial Bank, its subsidiaries and associates reported a net profit of QR 1.66bn for the full-year 2018, a significant increase of 175.5 percent compared to QR 603.7m recorded for the same period in 2017. The Group’s operating profit rose by 5.9 percent year-on-year to reach QR2.33bn.

Announcing the financial results, Sheikh Abdulla bin Ali bin Jabor Al Thani, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Commercial Bank, said, “Qatar’s economy is developing as the state pushes forward with reforms designed to strengthen the country’s economic future. In 2018, Qatar’s private sector grew by almost 6 percent, a clear indication that the right initiatives have been put in place to promote sustainable economic growth. This positive momentum is set to continue in 2019, with the IMF forecasting 4 percent growth for the non-oil sector.

“In December 2018 S&P Global Ratings revised Qatar’s outlook to stable due to the country’s prudent macroeconomic policies, which is an affirmation of the confidence global investors place on the country’s economic prospects.

Commercial Bank’s position as a leading financial institution enables it to play a significant role in supporting Qatar’s economic transformation agenda by participating in projects that will strengthen and diversify the national economy, the Chairman said.

Hussain Alfardan, Commercial Bank’s Vice Chairman, added, “In 2018 Commercial Bank started to see the results of its 5-year strategic plan come to fruition. As the legacy loan book provision program comes to an end, the Bank focused on optimising its portfolio and driving efficiencies. Operating expenses were down 11.5 percent as important investments in digitization and automation created leaner and more effective internal processes. The Bank continued to show significant improved bottom line performance. Consequently, the Board of Directors has recommended a cash dividend pay-out of 15 percent of par value or QR1.5 per share (pay-out ratio of 37 percent) subject to approval at the Annual General Assembly on 20 March 2019.”

The net interest income for the Group reduced is by 1.4 percent to QR2.48bn for the year ended 31 December 2018 compared to QR2.51bn from a year ago. Net interest margin remained at 2.2 percent as margins have been managed through active loan book re-pricing and diversifying liquidity sources to minimize the increasing cost of funding, the Vice Chairman added.

Non-interest income for the Group increased by 1.5 percent to QR1.02bn compared with QR1.01bn. The overall increase in non-interest income was mainly due to increase in fee-based income mainly on credit and transaction banking and foreign exchange gains.

Total operating expenses were tightly managed at a Group level, down by 11.5 percent to QR1.17bn for the year compared with QR1.32bn in 2017. Costs reductions were primarily driven by lower staff and administrative expenses.

The Group’s net provisions for loans and advances decreased by 45.4 percent to QR 927m for the year ended 31 December 2018, from QR1.69bn in 2017. The non-performing loan (NPL) ratio decreased to 5.6 percent compared to 5.7 percent in 2017. The loan coverage ratio has reduced to 78.9 percent from 81.0 percent. The Group balance sheet declined by 2.4 percent with total assets at QR 135.1bn, compared to QR138.4bn in 2017. The reduction was mainly due to lower loans and advances.

The Group’s loans and advances to customers reduced by 6.1 percent to QR 83.7bn compared with QR89.1bn. This was mainly due to the depreciation and the revaluation in government temporary overdraft.

The Group’s investment securities increased by 12.6 percent to QR 22.1bn. The increase is mainly in Government bonds. The Group’s customer deposits reduced by 8.1 percent to QR71.3bn, compared with QR 77.6bn in 2017, as the bank let go expensive deposits.

Joseph Abraham, Commercial Bank’s Group Chief Executive Officer, commented, “Commercial Bank posted a strong set of results in 2018. Our consolidated operating profit was QR2,335 million, an increase of 5.9 percent whilst net profit increased by 175.5 percent to QR1,663 million compared with 2017. Our team’s strong commitment and diligent execution of the Bank’s 5-year strategic plan is designed to cement Commercial Bank’s status as a leading financial institution in Qatar.

“The increase in net profit was driven by the reduction in loan provisioning compared to the previous year. Gross loan provisioning was down 45.4 percent as the legacy loan book provision program started to tail off. Operating profit was supported by a strong focus on efficiency, with the benefits of digitization also flowing through to the income statement. Consequently, our cost to income ratio is 33.4 percent for 2018 compared to 37.5 percent for last year.

“Consolidated net interest income was down by 1.4 percent to QR 2,482 million for the year 2018. The slight reduction was a result of the weakness in the Turkish Lira as reflected in Alternatifbank’s financial reports. Similarly, loans and advances were QR 83.7 billion in 2018, down 6.1 percent compared to last year due to the depreciation of the Turkish Lira and a contraction in Government borrowing following Qatar’s sovereign bond issuance in April 2018. Weakness in the Turkish Lira and efforts to dispose of high cost deposits resulted in customer deposits of QR71.3 billion.

“The Domestic Bank reported an increase of 4.0 percent in net interest income to QR 2,102 million, despite a 4.4 percent decrease in loans and advances compared to last year, through a combination of asset pricing and strong focus on cost of funding. Customer deposits decreased by 7.7 percent to QR 62.4 billion, which was the effect of a conscious decision to let go of expensive deposits bearing high interest rates. In Turkish Lira, Alternatifbank grew customer deposits by 26 percent and loans and advances by 23 percent, however in terms of Qatari Riyals, currency depreciation led to a 15 percent decline in loans and advances to customers and a 10 percent decline in customer deposits.

“Our Associate, NBO reported a net profit of OMR 50.6 million for the year, 15 percent higher than the previous year. We continue to classify UAB as an Asset Held for Sale and we remain focused on improving the performance of the entity as per our corporate strategy,” the GCEO said. In 2018 S&P revised Commercial Bank’s rating outlook from negative to stable which is a positive reflection of the execution of our 5-year strategic plan. The bank received several awards including ‘Best Retail Bank in Qatar’ for the second year in a row and ‘Best Remittance Service for the Middle East’ from The Asian Banker, together with ‘Best Bank in Qatar’ from Global Finance Magazine.


The shareholders of GWC gave their approval to all the items of the agenda of the yesterday’s general assembly meeting, including the board’s recommendation to distribute a cash dividend of QR1.9 per share.

The dividends, which are equivalent to 19 percent of the nominal share value, will be distributed through the designated branches of Masraf Al Rayan.

The company had reported net profits of QR237.5m for 2018, representing an increase of 10 percent in comparison with QR215.4m in net profits listed for 2017. Gross revenues meanwhile reached QR1.23bn at the end of 2018 compared with QR981.3m in 2017. The result was an increase in EPS to QR4.04 at the end of 2018, in comparison with QR3.68 at the end of 2017.

The General Assembly meeting of the GWC, the leading logistics provider in Qatar, was presided over by the company’s Chairman Sheikh Abdullah bin Fahad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al Thani.

Sheikh Abdulla said GWC is maintaining its position as the leading logistics provider in the State of Qatar, as the Company has continued to support the nation’s growing needs, while laying foundations and strategies in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030.

For the GWC’s Extraordinary Assembly General Meeting, the company presented a number of amendments to its constitution in accordance with the laws and regulations of the Qatar Financial Markets Authority. These included amendments to: Article 2 to comply with the existing activities listed in the company’s commercial registry; Article 5, changing the nominal value of shares from QR10 to QR1; Article 13, changing the maximum ownership rate from 25 percent to 35 percent, in compliance with QFMA Resolution No. 1 for 2016; Article 25 to remove the names of the board of directors; and several other articles.

The general assembly gathered following a year of achievement for the company, starting with the company entering a management agreement with Al Asmakh Real Estate, placing the Bu Fesseela Warehousing Park under GWC’s management.

The company also launched a number of new services, while maintaining its presence in the market through its established solutions. Among those recently established were LEDD Technologies, a wholly owned subsidiary of GWC, offering technology services and solutions. GWC also launched GWC Marine operations to offer shipping agency services. Meanwhile, the company’s Contract Logistics, Forwarding, and Projects departments have made major in-roads in developing contracts with clients in the oil and gas, government, broadcasting, and sports sector.

The company has received much recognition in the field as a result: most recently, the company was named “Best Customs Brokerage Company” for 2018 by the General Authority of Customs; and in 2018, the company was awarded “Digital Transformation Award” by Microsoft for its outstanding achievements in leading the company’s digital transformation.

“GWC’s achievements over the last 15 years reflect the success of our long-term strategy, while supporting Qatar National Vision 2030 in becoming a sustainable and diverse economy, and ensuring the best possible returns to our shareholders, God willing,” said Ranjeev Menon, GWC Group CEO.

Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) has partnered with QFBA to run the pilot program for the first batch of ‘Generation 2030’ in pursuit of offering the best financial courses to Qatari executives and new-age professionals.

The program, targeting new joiners as well as employees who have been on the job for up to three years, will help professionals master the latest trends and challenges in the financial sector and thereby allow them to further hone their skills. The Training modules will be spread over four to six months, with coaching and mentoring in between.

The pilot session of this program took place at QFBA and involved participation of Qatari employees from all QFC entities.

Commenting on the occasion, Qatar Financial Centre CEO Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida said: “The QFC is dedicated to supporting the development of professionals by creating the framework that facilitates and enables their long-term professional growth. We are therefore delighted to host the pilot session of Generation 2030, which closely aligns with our commitment to take our investment in human capital to the next level”.

Dr. Khalid Al Horr, Chief Executive Officer, Qatar Finance and Business Academy, said:“The “Generation 2030” program has been launched after identifying the needs within the economy in general and the specific needs of the relevant organisations to design a product that they deem fit for their organizational growth. The aim of this program is to prepare our future generations for the utmost uncertain environs and that’s exactly our program plans to achieve”. “Today, we are happy to take the program into effect with QFC’s team members as we encourage other local stakeholders to join us on the mission of equipping our young generation with all the skills and tools they need to excel in the financial sector in Qatar”.

The new program underlines QFBA’s commitment to contribute to the development of a knowledge-based economy in Qatar and to strengthen corporate competitiveness in the region. It serves as a blended learning solution that delivers financial knowledge, self-management, guidance and business etiquette.


The QIC Board of Directors in their meeting held on Sunday, reviewed company’s performance, the financial information for the year 2018, the auditor’s report and the QR646m profits realised.

The board recommended a cash dividend of 15 percent from the share par value, i.e. QR1.5 for each share. The board has also proposed increase in capital by QR77,042,580 through the private issuance of 7,704,258 shares. Share price is QR36.57 per share, QR10 nominal value + QR26.57 share premium. Only the minority shareholders of the subsidiary QIC Capital, registered in Qatar Financial Center, has full rights of subscription

In addition, the board also proposed to change the nominal value of the share price to be one Qatari Riyal as implementation of Qatar Financial Market Authority’s (QFMA) resolution issued at its fourth meeting of 2018 held on 16 December 2018.

Also the board has also proposed amendment of Article (5) of the Articles of association in respect of condition number 3 of the conditions of membership of the board of directors, that shareholder should hold two million shares of the company.

Also the board approved board of directors report and corporate governance report for the year 2018 in addition to remuneration policy for the year 2019 and standard of operations of Nomination and remuneration committee

This recommendation will be presented to the annual and extraordinary general meeting which will be held in Four seasons Hotel on Tuesday, February 26, 2019 at 4.30 pm.

The dividends recommendations have to be approved from Qatar Central Bank.


Commodities are poised to gain as the USD weakens and the US economic cycle gradually matures, but the upside to higher commodity prices is limited by important structural changes, QNB noted in its weekly ‘economic commentary’, yesterday.

Commodity prices have started to recover since their recent lows in late December, after having plummeted from their recent highs in May-October 2018. In fact, the Standard & Poor’s Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (S&P GSCI Index), a leading benchmark for general commodity price movements, was up 9.3 percent from late December to the time of writing in late January 2019, after falling by 26.9 percent from early October to late December 2018.

The less energy-intensive Bloomberg Commodity Index has followed a similar trajectory, albeit with a more contained magnitude, with prices recovering by 4.6 percent since late December, after a 16.2 percent drop from their May 2018 peak to the late December trough.

QNB analysis delves into the two reasons behind the recent trend in commodity prices and the three factors that are set to limit the upside in prices over the coming years.

The ongoing recovery in commodity prices is associated with two main supporting elements. First, the FX markets, with a weakening USD favouring commodities. As most commodities have their prices benchmarked in USD, non-US demand tends to increase whenever the USD is down, pushing prices up.

The USD has depreciated by 1.8 percent against the US Dollar Index (DXY) basket since November 2018.

Second, a reversal of overshooting commodity prices in the context of still healthy global growth and the beginning of late-cycle price movements. While growth is softening in the US, the Euro area, China and Japan, the demand for commodities is expected to hold up at reasonable levels. The IMF projects that global growth in 2019 should still hover around the post-Lehman average of 3.4 percent y/y.

Moreover, the key US economic cycle is gradually moving towards late cycle or late expansion, which often presents higher inflation and less accommodative monetary policies, i.e., conditions that favor commodities versus equities or fixed income assets.

There are, however, three factors or caveats that are set to limit the upside in commodity prices during the coming years.

First, inflation and inflation expectations, which have a positive relationship with commodity prices, are contained by long-run or secular changes in advanced economies. Historically, commodities rally the most after inflation start to accelerate, as a positive feed-back loop is created and investors turn to commodities as safe-haven trades against inflation.

But the so-called Phillips Curve, or the long-run relationship between unemployment and inflation, has flattened, as wages struggle to grow on the back of several structural changes in labor markets.

Despite positive output gaps or demand running above GDP potential in several advanced economies, inflation is not going to pick up in a more substantial way if salaries do not respond to tighter labor markets.

Second, lower demand for durable goods in advanced economies. Structural demand for big ticket items (houses, white goods, automobiles) has clearly moved downwards since the Great Financial Crisis of 2008, as de-leveraging became the norm and millennials started to change consumer preferences. With less demand for such items, material intensive capital expenditure suffers, affecting the prospects for energy, diesel and base metals.

Third, a shift in the price elasticity of supply of key commodities, i.e., the responsiveness of output or quantity supplied to a change in prices. Typically, commodity markets suffer with very different frequencies between supply and demand, with supply being sticky over the short-term, a problem that is often referred to as the “hog cycle.” This contributes to create periods of severe under-supply or over-supply, breading violent price movements.

While this still holds for commodities such as copper or conventional oil, technological progress and innovation are closing the frequency gap and making supply more responsive to prices over shorter horizons. The best such example is the impact of shale oil in energy markets.

All in all, commodities are poised to gain as the USD weakens and the US economic cycle gradually matures, but the upside to higher commodity prices is limited by important structural changes.